FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A Louisville woman has won the $1 million prize in Kentucky's Shot at a Million Vaccine incentive drawing, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Friday.
"I have never experienced anything like this. It's shocking because you don't really think you're going to win," said the winner, Ginger Schultz. "Why take a chance at getting very sick and possibly die or even passing it on to someone else? That's what my main concern was."
The Bluegrass State launched the lottery on June 4 in an effort to persuade people to get vaccinated. In the two months since, more than 692,000 adult Kentuckians and more than 40,900 youth have signed up for the lottery.
Coronavirus cases across the state have also risen due to the highly contagious delta variant. As the Democratic governor congratulated the winners, he also encouraged other Kentuckians to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
"Now, with the delta variant surging, it's more important than ever that we talk about why we're doing this drawing in the first place. We did it to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Everyone eligible should sign up for a vaccine and the remaining drawing as soon as possible," he said.
Vaccinations have started to tick up slightly "for the first time in a while," Beshear said. Between Thursday and Friday, the state had almost 6,000 new vaccinations, compared with a normal total of 1,800 to 2,200 new vaccinations.
More than 2.25 million Kentuckians have received the COVID-19 vaccine, or 62% of the state's population ages 18 and older. Still, rates vary by age group, with the majority of residents in their 20s unvaccinated: 37% of Kentuckians 18 to 29 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with 83% of residents 65 and up.
Five more youngsters also won full-ride scholarships to any Kentucky public college, university, technical or trade school. One of them was 14-year old Shelby Anderson. She spoke at the podium with her family by her side and urged young people to get the vaccine, so things can be "closer to getting back to normal."
"As an immunocompromised person, there was no second guessing my decision to be vaccinated. I took the vaccine unaware of the Shot at a Million scholarship, and I am so grateful I have the vaccine and I got a scholarship for doing it," she said.
The last drawing will take place on Aug. 26.
Kentucky reported 1,648 coronavirus cases and three virus-related deaths Friday. The state's positivity rate is 8.96%, up from 1.99% on July 1.
Roughly one-third of Kentucky's 120 counties are reported to be in the red zone -- signaling a severe level of community spread. No Kentucky counties had that designation at the start of July.
Hudspeth Blackburn is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.
This story was corrected to remove the reference to the first drawing.